August 20th, 2001

Short Strokes
By James Castwell


A couple of weeks ago at the Fish-In 2001 I had a few sessions on the practice casting field with folks who wanted to improve their casting. One problem was very common. Since most come from the era of (dare I mention it on here?) 'spinning,' they retained some of the moves associated with it. This shows up in normal casting lessons as well. There seems to be a 'lob' type of cast they use and incorporate it into the fly-casting stroke. It really messes things up. Not only do they have to 'un-learn' the ineffective 'lob,' they need to replace it with a better way.

When you stop the rod on the back-cast, look at your thumb. The tip may be pointed back a bit, but if the bone between the first and second joints is vertical, you have done it right. If you bend your wrist and it points some to the rear it will cause the rod tip to flex down toward the ground, opening a big loop of line behind you. Instead of the fly line streaking to the rear it follows the path of the rod tip and only part goes back, the rest falling. This does not give you a tight line to pull against for a successful forward cast.

Last week in Hollywood CA, I again had an opportunity to try to help a caster who was 'whipping' the rod back, not just coming to a 'hard-stop.' Even though he stopped the rod at the proper place in the back-cast, the violence of the stop was causing the tip to point below a horizontal line. The result was his cast had plenty of speed going back, but the loop formed was way too large and did not travel to the end of the line, but the last several feet would simply drop straight down, giving nothing to pull against for the front cast. When he merely stopped the rod the back-cast improved to the necessary 'wedge' shape, straightened out to its full length and his front cast greatly improved.

JC teaching in California It is surprising how such a tiny error in stroke can make such a great difference, but it will. So how do you improve your stroke? You might try this. When you pull back for the back-cast, try to hit the rod tip with the fly line on its way back. Obviously, do not do this with great force as to damage your rod. If you can hit your rod with the line, great. But that was too quick a stop. Try just missing the rod tip with the line on the next few casts. If you stop the rod at exactly the right place the line will unroll above the rod tip and sail straight back.

"Shorten your stroke, less effort, not so far back on the back-cast. Make it an 'up-cast,' not a back-cast. After the stop, turn your head and watch three in a row. See how they improve when you do?" Those are phrases and words we often use when helping a guy tune up his casting. "If you can hear the rod on the cast you are swinging it too hard. Ease off, just cast with tip of the rod, imagine it's a flyswatter. Remember how you shook out a paintbrush? Same stroke, short strokes." ~ James Castwell

Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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